Allah: Is it God or Allah?
Some have remarked how in United 93 "Allah" had been translated as "God" rather than "Allah." Let Us explain the three prevailing theories, that We know of, concerning the origin or nature of the word allaah.
One theory maintains that allaah is a contraction or corruption of al-ilaah. "ilaah" means "a god," the feminine being "ilaat." Thus, when the shahaadah says laa ilaaha illa-llaah, what it really is saying is that there is no god (or goddess, presumably) other than allaah, or that the only deity that exists is allaah.
Another theory maintains that allaah is connected with allaat, a goddess mentioned in the Qur'an and, evidently, in Arab paganism allaah's wife. As such, it is maintained that allaah is really al-laah, while allaat is really al-laat, both being partners and thus grammatically the same word but simply differentiated by gender. We are sure it can also be said that allaah really is al-ilaah (The God) while allaat is really al-ilaat (The Goddess) by corruption or contraction. (A sidenote: In Arab paganism, allaah was the father of the gods and the moon god; allaat was the mother of the gods and the sun goddess. Indeed, in a variety of Semitic languages, "moon" is male and "sun" is female. This can explain why the moon was used by the Arabs as Islam's symbol.)
According to both of the above theories, allaah is not a name but a title, as it were, meaning "The God." As such, allaah can be translated as "God."
However, many Muslims believe that allaah is a name, just like Jack or Ahmad or Yechizqiyahu or Balasubramanium. These Muslims believe that one may not translate it as "God." Although it may have a same sense as the English "God" (and Dominus, Dios, Dieu, et cetera; in Judeo-Christian dominated languages, "God" has virtually become a name), a name cannot be replaced with a noun. One cannot replace "William," for example, with "boy." These Muslims would also point to how words for "god" ("ilaah") and "the god" ("al-ilaah") already exist in Arabic, neither of which is allaah, thus allaah is fundamentally different from ilaah/al-ilaah. "allaah" is thus comparable with the Name of God in the Hebrew Bible (the four-letter name of God, also known as the Tetragrammaton). However, this link cannot be used too much as Jews have replaced The Name with the Hebrew for "Lord." But the point such Muslims would make is that Jews have replaced The Name, not translated it.
One point that devout Muslims have in their favor is the fact that over time words change their significance. Whereas it may be true that at one point allaah served as a noun to distinguish The Deity from others, now it serves as the name of The Deity. Which aspect ought to prevail, historical facts which may no longer be irrelevant or modern theology which may supress if not ignore historical facts?
We are sure this is an issue of debate amongst Muslims as well: is allaah a name or a noun? However, whatever the answer is for Muslims, it would have no affect on Islamic theology, jurisprudence, beliefs, or whatnot. For them, it's simply a minor linguistic puzzle. Because it is difficult to ascertain which theory ought to be adhered to (indeed, one must question whether historical facts matter or current theology), for English-speaking people this may be a matter of personal taste. Some believe it does not matter what word one uses to address The Supreme Deity, while others believe it does matter.